Posts Tagged ‘PR students’


Your Public Relations Career May Start With a Post-Grad Internship

Thursday, May 8th, 2014
flickr user Ian Norman under CC BY license

flickr user Ian Norman under CC BY license

Hats off to those PR students who recently graduated, and to those who are about to walk—in your commencement ceremony and into the next chapter of your lives!

You are likely now focused on the job search.  Many grads will quickly realize that they don’t have what it takes to get that entry-level job. Yes, I know entry-level would seem to indicate just that—no experience required, but in PR (and some other industries as well) things work a bit differently.  Most entry-level public relations jobs ask for at least one year of experience. In some cases, they may also ask for additional skills such as graphic design, publication layout, web coding—ones that are historically outside the realm of traditional PR or summer internships. While it can seem frustrating that to get work experience you need work experience, there is a way to get that: the post-graduate internship.

Through various touch points, including being professional adviser to PRSSA-SE over the past few years (and previously PRSA-St. Louis’ PRSSA liaison), I have had occasion to talk with students, graduates, new pros, faculty and hiring professionals.  Post-grad internships seem to be a trend so I did a little digging, and to my surprise, found it wasn’t exactly a new trend.

I stumbled upon a post from 2009 on PR Channel’s (now abandoned)  blog, which quoted Meg Carosello (nee Fullenkamp), who heads up PR at Captiva Marketing in St. Louis, where she said, even if you’ve graduated without internship experience, it’s not too late.

First, don’t be afraid to do a post-grad internship. My first internship was after graduation at Opera Theatre of St. Louis. It was for 2 months, not much pay, but I learned so much and got to work with major editors at publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Dallas Morning News and more! This internship gave me valuable experience that made me more attractive to employers. Secondly, don’t be afraid to do more than one post-grad internship. After my time was over at Opera Theatre, I landed a position as an intern in the marketing communications group at Fleishman Hillard. I had applied at FH twice before and didn’t even get an interview. My internship at Opera Theatre made me extremely attractive on paper and I landed the job. While my six months at FH were crazy, it was great having such a large agency on my resume.”

I reached out to Meg to see how she felt about that quote today (and to ask permission to use it). She noted the PR world has changed a lot in the past several years and by adding web and digital marketing skills, she’s not only keeping relevant but it has made her a much better resource for her clients. She said, “By taking chances on something new and continuing to learn something new every day I have found my niche even though it was not necessarily my original plan when I graduated and I am much happier now because of it.”

As if to punctuate the point, I found a recent post by Nicole Bersani, who had plenty of undergrad experience between a couple internships and her work for ImPRessions (Ohio University’s nationally-affiliated student-run firm) but still chose to take another internship after graduation. She did this to get her foot in the door at a globally recognized agency, and successfully leveraged that internship into a full-time job!

Whether you’ve been told you need additional experience, want to check-out a new city (or country), or are simply trying figure out what you want to do, there are plenty of reasons to take a post-grad internship. You should expect to be paid, be committed to the job that you accept, and be willing to work beyond “normal” hours. Be inquisitive. Be open to all opportunities.

Most of all, don’t feel bad if this is what you need to do. The job title doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are moving toward your next goal—which is to find a job that is satisfying.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Public Relations Internship

Monday, April 21st, 2014

How to Get the Most out of Your Public Relations Internship Ellis Friedman BurrellesLuceAfter my junior year at college, I had an internship at a film production company. It was an excellent learning experience, in that I learned a lot about both film production and the way the office world works. Looking back seven years later, there are a lot of things I wish I’d prepared for and known to make the most of my time there, lessons that can be applied to aspiring PR pros who might be stepping into a PR internship this summer.

Write a lot

Writing is a pretty critical skill in PR, and the only way to improve is to keep writing. If your organization has a blog, write for it. Depending on your organization, you may only get to post once a week, or even less often, so practice delivering multiple pieces of content per week by keeping your own blog. While you may not be sending out your own pitch emails, practice drafting them anyway and ask someone to provide feedback.

You should also become familiar with the concept of a corporate style guide and practice writing in accordance with it. Since most corporate style guides are based upon  a media style guide, familiarize yourself with the most important ones.

Ask questions

Lots of them. Don’t understand what your manager or co-worker asked you to do? Clarify. Need help? Ask. Don’t worry about looking stupid (you won’t) – remind yourself that not asking leads to mistakes down the road. Here are some good questions to ask during the interview or on the job.

Also, ask colleagues and your manager about what they’re doing – you’re there to learn, after all, and there’s only so much you can learn by just observing. Asking questions not only gives you a cache of knowledge for the future, it makes you more of an active participant in the organization. If you feel like your office mates aren’t available for questions on a daily basis, write down your questions and ask for a small chunk of time – coffee, lunch, or just a meeting – when you can ask those questions. Just don’t be afraid to ask for that time.

Do the grunt work

Being an intern generally doesn’t involve a lot of intellectually stimulating work – most of the time, it involves a lot of tedious – okay, boring – but necessary work. Don’t fall victim to the “I didn’t give up my whole summer just to file papers and do the Starbucks run” line of thinking. Yes, you did “give up” your summer for that (newsflash: once you graduate, the concept of summer all but evaporates), but to get the knowledge you came for, you need to look beyond the short-term boredom of a menial task to the greater context of what’s going on around you.

What are the workflow processes like? Which aspects of other people’s jobs do you find most interesting? How do things function outside of the classroom? How are your office mates communicating with journalists and audiences? How are they responding to praise, complaints, or crises? Just because you’re doing some grunt work doesn’t mean there’s nothing to learn.

Don’t get caught doing nothing

If you finish your work early, don’t sit around waiting for someone to give you more. Ask your manager or office mate what you can help with, or, even better, if you see that some work you think needs to be done, run it by your manager with a quick, “It looks like ____ needs to be done. Is that something I can help work on?” That shows you not only take initiative, but also ensures that you’re not creating more work down the line by doing something incorrectly or that doesn’t actually need to be done.

Manage your brand

It might be tempting to share with your office mates your social experiences, but resist that temptation. You want to be known as the professional intern, not the party intern. Remember that you are building and managing your personal brand with every person with whom you come into contact.

Know you know nothing

That’s not to say you should go in forgetting everything you know, but that you should go in with an open mind with a very eager willingness to learn. The actual practice of PR will probably be different than what you imagined it to be, so go with the flow and don’t get flustered when you encounter unknown territory – that’s what internships are all about.

What Public Relations Students Should Do During Summer Break

Monday, June 3rd, 2013
Flickr.com: QueensU

Flickr.com: QueensU

Those who were seniors this past year are now graduated and moved on, leaving room for the next class of future PR professionals to fill their shoes—to take next steps on the path of their PR student career.  So, what should they be doing during summer break? Listed below are a few items that came to my mind (but I’m hoping some of our PR pro friends will chime-in with additional tips):

  • Set short-term goals. For example, attend at least one professional industry networking event over the summer. Or, read industry blogs and/or articles and comment on at least one each week.
  • Set long-term goals, write them down and number them in order of importance. For example, attend at least one industry professional networking event per semester. And/or get involved with on-campus pre-professional organization (like PRSSA or AMA).
  • Work on your portfolio. Gather writing samples–or create some by volunteering to write a guest blog post, or better yet, start your own blog. Be sure to include any public relations or marketing plans you’ve created, press releases, anything written in AP Style, research papers, newspaper clippings, presentations, creative design samples, reference letters, special certifications, etc. If you haven’t yet created an online portfolio, do so. The earlier you begin, the more prepared you will be come graduation time. NOTE: If you are including any work that was done as part of a group, be sure to notate this and identify which part you actually did.
  • Practice your elevator speech. You should have a 30-second spiel that is memorable and opens a window to your personality, your passions and your mindset. Not a laundry list of skills but rather what you can offer to a potential employer. Practice OUT LOUD. Use your smartphone to record yourself so you can play it back and make improvements.
  • Clean-up and hone your online presence—including your social media accounts. Google yourself  (be sure to ‘hide personal results’ by clicking the globe in the upper right)–and don’t forget Bing and Yahoo!. If the first page results do not represent who you are, immediately begin digital damage control. This is even more important if you have a common name and can easily be confused with a dubious doppelgänger. Seek out and follow industry leaders so you can network and learn from the professionals, not just fellow students.
    • Not sure what “digital damage control” is? Here are some tips from CareerBuilder on CNN.com.
    • Don’t think employers are using the Web and social media to research job candidates? Read this from the Wall Street Journal.
  • PR professionals must view themselves as “brands”—it’s a very competitive industry. Your business cards, resume, online portfolios, etc. should present a cohesive message. Work on ensuring that all these match your “brand.”
  • Research agencies, organization, companies that you would like to intern with or work for.  Reach out to them and request an information interview. Face-to-face is best but Skype or Google+ Hangouts work, too. Ask what (coursework, degrees, activities, skill sets) they are looking for when hiring. Ask, given identical academic backgrounds, what makes some candidates standout above the rest.
  • If you have free time, volunteer at a local non-profit organization and offer to help with public relations, marketing, social media, blog content creation, special events. This is experience—it all counts!

What else should students (or young PR pros) be doing in preparation for their career?  If you are a student or recent graduate, what have you done (or are doing) to progress your career? We want to hear from you.